Ad tech company Viant’s co-founders,Tim and Chris Vanderhook, announced this morning they have bought back the 60 percent stake in the demand-side platform (DSP) from Meredith Corp for an undisclosed fee. The company will therefore return to the market as an independent DSP. Viant was previously sold to Time Inc. in February 2016 for $87 million and since then Time was itself acquired by Meredith Corp in 2017 for $2.8 billion.
The Vanderhooks will buy back the stake in the company from Time’s current owners Meredith Corp. The deal means that Tim and Chris Vanderhook, who are CEO and COO of the company respectively, are now the sole owners of the business. The deal does not include Meredith Corp’s stake in over-the-top (OTT) service Xumo, which was bought by Time Inc. as part of the original Viant deal.
Core to Viant’s offering is its Viant Advertising Cloud, which it says enables marketers to onboard and activate first-party CRM data against its own database for targeted ad campaigns. Viant’s data lake includes its own proprietary audience data which it picked up via its acquisition of Myspace back in 2011, and Viant has used its extensive stores of first-party data to brand itself around people-based advertising.
Meredith Corp has been selling off a number of Time’s holdings which is says are viewed as “non-core to Meredith’s business strategy”, including titles like Fortune, Sports Illustrated, and Time Magazine. Meredith chief development officer John Zieser said that following the sale, Meredith Corp will continue working with Viant on joint business initiatives, adding that the company is “pleased to have sold our equity in Viant to Tim and Chris Vanderhook, who have been excellent stewards of the business”.
The move means that Viant’s demand-side platform (DSP) Adelphic will once again be an independent platform, at a time when a number of media companies are picking up DSPs. Last year AT&T bought AppNexus, which runs a DSP, and recently OTT platform owner Roku bought DSP Dataxu.
But at the same time, we’ve seen a number of media companies looking to sell of their ad tech holdings, with Altice reportedly looking to offload Teads, RTL reviewing its ownership of SpotX, and News UK looking for a buyer for Unruly.
This makes Meredith’s decision to shed its ad tech holding particularly interesting, suggesting it has found limited value in pairing its media properties with proprietary ad tech – though Meredith Corp has been fairly ruthless fair in selling off any assets which it doesn’t see as essential to its core business as it’s worked to pay off debt.
Viant says it is not gearing up for another sale to a media company any time soon, with Chris Vanderhook telling AdAge “we want to remain independent and we’re not setting up our business for another media company to acquire it.” The brothers say that Viant is currently profitable, and that revenue has been growing healthily as the DSP has pushed into new areas including out-of-home and advanced TV.